Kidnapping is the false imprisonment of a person. It involves the illegal confinement of individuals against his or her own will by another person, thereby restraining the movement of the individual and violating their human rights. Kidnappers use force, threats, enticement, and pressure to get people to do whatever they want, including paying a ransom. The purpose of the act is to get illicit gain; whether material or power in exchange for the victim’s liberation. It may also be used to pressure someone into doing something or not doing something against his or her will.
Early acts of kidnapping in Nigeria
Kidnapping has been a menace for such a long time. It can be traced to the time before colonialism in Nigeria. At this time, there were recorded cases of kidnap for rituals, rape and other purposes in various parts of the country. However, kidnapping in Nigeria today is done primarily for monetary ransom, material equivalent to be paid for someone’s release.
A famous and recent kidnapper is a man called Evans. He was a multimillionaire kidnapper and was arrested in Lagos. Evans is currently in detention awaiting trial.
Organizations and groups such as militants and insurgents have also been involved in kidnap for ransom in Nigeria. For example, the Niger Delta militants who abducted many so as to generate funds both for the group and for private use. It has also been reported that Boko Haram insurgents have also used ransom money from their various kidnaps to keep their operations running. The Boko haram insurgents kidnap groups in suburbs and use the huge sums paid as ransom by the families of the victims for their operations.
Kidnappers make sure they have estimated a victim’s ‘ransom value, they go for people they know can afford to pay the value they demand for. This is why often times than not, politicians in the executive, the legislative and judicial arm of government as well as the wealthy are usually the target of abductors.
The “kidnap ransom value” of each victim is what makes them an attractive target. This value is determined by a number of factors such as the victim’s socio-economic status or political status of the family, the dynamics of negotiation as well as the type of kidnappers involved.
Kidnapping in Nigeria: How It’s Been Happening
Recent kidnapping in Nigeria can also be traced to the year 2006 when the militants of the Niger Delta region took people, hostage, as a means of protestation against the inequality of the government in the region. The Niger Delta region is a rich source of Nigeria’s income as an oil-rich state. However, the complaints of many in the Niger Delta region is that the area is not being developed in spite of the wealth its added to the country.
Kidnapping which started as an act against government officials has now spread to many others; civilians, religious leaders, politicians, and their children.
The act of kidnapping and abduction, as well as other acts of violent crime, has become a major threat to national security. These crimes include militancy, insurgency, and banditry. Nigeria has had to deal with issues such as cattle rustling, armed robbery along with kidnapping.
Kidnapping has remained one of the most deadly forms of banditry in Nigeria. It seems to have become more pervasive with the authorities not able to curb it. Report has it that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases in the world.
Kidnapping can be targeted at individuals or groups. For example, school children have been kidnapped in groups in various parts of the country.
Kidnappers engage in this criminality for several reasons which include unemployment, idleness, vengeance which could be personal or political, rituals, monetary gains, and other complex motives.
The many dangers and threats posed by Kidnapping
Kidnapping has led to the loss of many lives unaccounted for and huge sums of money in Nigeria.
While the abductors demand monetary pay as ransom, many of the victims of abduction lose their lives or are injured in the course of the crime. This happens when the ransom is not paid on time or even on the release of the victims. The families of the victim(s) go through emotional trauma and pressure as they seek for the ransom while hoping their relatives will not be harmed.
Over the years, kidnapping and abduction have been on the rise. This is in spite of the many measures and tactics that have been employed by the government, which includes the Nigerian police’s anti-kidnapping squad which was introduced in the 2000s. The Nigerian police’s anti-kidnapping squad has not been able to curb this menace due to a lack of manpower and poor logistics.
In addition to this is the problem of weak sanctioning and deterrence mechanisms. Kidnapping thrives in an environment where opportunities for crime prevail and many can live above the law. Unless Nigeria has a better judicial and law enforcement system, the problem may continue.
The crime of kidnapping and abduction has been on for far too long. Many believe kidnappers persist in the act because penalties for this crime exceed the benefits they get from the crime. It has been clamored for on many grounds that the government should impose penalties that are way harsher and which cannot be avoided. The current penalty for kidnapping ranges from one to 20 years in prison, this is considered too low. However, there is the possibility of life imprisonment for extreme cases such as the murder of the victim(s).
Many believe the solution to this menace is if stricter measures such as life imprisonment or the death penalty are put into law. They argue that the crime of kidnapping is a maximum threat to life itself.
The impact of kidnapping on other sectors of Nigeria
Kidnapping and its associated crimes have an effect not only on the lives of the Nigerian people but the international community.
Foreigners become concerned about their stay in the country. More so, international investors have a lot of fear building businesses in Nigeria, this sure threatens economic development.
Kidnapping has also affected the labor market as there have been increased rates of unemployment and displacement of workers in the areas affected by this menace.